1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Step 1– Dejunk, Disassemble and Demolition

The economy in 2007, when we first found the Roamer, was still on fire, and even used boats were quite expensive. After doing the math on “engines and a paint job,” it looked like it would be cost effective to restore the Roamer. We had also found that every boat we looked at had features, layouts etc that we would have to change to make it the way we like. I’m also inclined to take on big projects as sort of a hobby; for me, this sort of thing is fun. So, with that in mind we started dejunking and disassembling the boat.

But the more we disassembled, the more problems we discovered and the more demolition we did of the interior. I think of disassemble as a process that will be done in reverse later to put it back in the same basic shape as before. Demolition, by contrast, is just getting stuff out of the way, destructively if necessary, to make a blank palette for a new design. The more disassembling we did, the more rot and other issues we found that, in turn, required more demolition. Somewhere along the way we realized that gutting the boat and starting anew would yield the best result in terms of what we wanted.

So by January 2008, the refit plan had grown to “engines, a paint job and a whole interior.”

Dejunking is the first step in any large project–be it an old house, car or boat

Everything that isn’t bolted down goes.

Careful where you grab, though…abandoned boats make great wasp and hornet sanctuaries!

Some things are best kept until you know if you’ll need them again

In this case, the original mahogany chest of drawers from the aft cabin might clean up nicely if we can get that nasty paint off of it some day (some day being the operative term).

The helm area cleaned up fairly well, but it had been painted with enamel 20+ years ago, and the paint was well past the point of failing

But all of the helm switches and gauges are functional, and the chrome isn’t too badly pitted. This should clean up pretty well.

I removed the headliner around the cabin top hatch, since it would have to come out to do the engine swap

I also suspected the hatch would need to be repaired, since the seam in the fiberglass on top showed evidence of breakage. If only I knew…

Disconnecting the Super SeaMaster 534ci twin turbo engines and gears in preparation for their removal

The exhaust risers are copper, which is wonderful material for that application EXCEPT if it’s in an aluminum boat. Copper ions interact with hot exhaust and leave the inside of the risers, settling downstream on the aluminum exhaust tubes. Since it’s a wet environment, the copper and aluminum make a small battery that consumes the aluminum. The result is extensive pitting. But more on that later…

And just like that, the engines are ready to come out

Actually, it took about a week to get to this point.

The next step was to remove the hatch…not an easy job for one man

But I started thinking like an Egyptian and before long there was light at the end…er…the edge of the hatch.

Et voila! A moonroof!

Just in time, too, because a crane was coming the next morning to remove the big, heavy stuff–the engines, genset, air conditioner and refrigerator.

Salon floors out…check
Engines and generator disconnected…check
Salon hatch out…check
Refrigerator…all stop

This had to be the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and that’s saying something

Note the empty yet unopened packs of frozen sweet corn on the cob with just a bit of brown liquid left in them? See the maggot zombies? mmmmmm

Maggot zombies and egg casings were everywhere in the fridge!

The brown goo at the bottom of the fridge was the same color and consistency of the liquid in the unopened sweet corn packages

I’m guessing that what we’re looking at here is some fully processed sweet corn. I mean, there wasn’t even any cob left. All I can think of is: 1) gak; and 2) thank the lord above that it was the middle of winter and the fridge door seals had worked.

Then the big boy showed up

And a one-a…

And a two-a…

and a three-a…

and a genset…

and an electric stove…

and a NASTY fridge…

and a massive R-12 marine AC unit, just because there was still time on the clock


Super SeaMaster 534ci twin turbo and intercooled marine engines and gears

Installed in this vessel in 1973 when the Roamer was only three years old, they weighed 1850lbs each with gears. 400 hp at the gear tailshaft @ 3200rpm. But destroyed by neglect and completely obsolete, so rebuilding was impractical. RIP

That was it for Phase 1 and 2 of Step 1: Dejunk and Disassemble. Next comes more Disassembly and Demolition


2 comments on “1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Step 1– Dejunk, Disassemble and Demolition

  1. Chris Prack says:

    So what did you do with the engines? I don’t know a whole lot about vintage boats but I know engines and those are pretty darn cool. I can’t help but think of those rebuilt with modern pistons and turbos. Wow.

    • 1969roamer46 says:

      Hi Chris.
      I ended up removing all of the turbo and marine bits off of the engines and then scrapped them after I got zero bites trying to sell them for a few months. The problem is that parts are very hard to find. Those engines have been out of production for almost a half-century, and they weren’t used in hotrods. Without aftermarket demand, like you’d see with 427 Fords, for example, even gasket sets and water pumps were not available. I’ve still got one of the intercooler housings and carb plenums, if you’re interested. They’re pretty awesome looking.

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